To the tour
Of the united bloggers of literature
And to Colleen Mondor,
Who planned it all
On the net
Cool and literate
With interviews and book stuff
A few months ago, Colleen from Chasing Ray organized the first Summer Blast Blog Tour (SBBT), in which bloggers had the opportunity to interview a multitude of fascinating and talented authors, with new and exclusive interviews posted every day for a week. Colleen has now organized a blog tour which is quite worldly: the One-Shot World Tour (OSWT), in which bloggers will feature a book or books by an author from a certain country.
The first stop on our tour is Australia - with a few side trips to New Zealand - making this inaugural edition Best Read With Vegemite.
I've always had a fascination with stories set in Australia, so I jumped on the Australian OSWT bandwagon with gusto.
When I was in elementary school, my sister had a very cool pen pal in Australia named Mel. When the girls discovered that their younger sisters who were nearly the same age, the younger set became pen pals as well. Our families met early in our friendship, when her family took a big trip to America. During that day, as well as in the years and letters to come, we giggled over the words our countries used differently. To me, jumper was a sleeveless dress best worn over a cute shirt and tights; to Zoe, it was a sweater. When she asked for tomato sauce, I pictured what I'd add to a pasta dish until she reached for the bottle of ketchup.
Zoe and I wrote back and forth for at least five years. We shared a love for performing and a love of books. We could talk about classics one moment and The Baby-Sitters Club the next.
At one point, our Australian sisters sent us a container of vegemite. We tried it, but we didn't care for it.
I do wish we were still in touch. Zoe and Mel, I hope you are doing well, and that you are successful and happy!
In 2005, I read Finding Grace by Alyssa Brugman. I enjoyed it so much that I included in on my Best Books of 2005 list, under the category of best backlist titles. I followed it up with Walking Naked, her second novel for teens, which was also well-written. I snatched up Being Bindy as soon as it was released in America last year. It was a fun, realistic story, and I added that to many of my middle school booklists. Though I enjoyed all three of these novels, it was Finding Grace that struck me the most. Here's my original review:
In this thoughtful novel, a high school graduate becomes the caretaker for a woman who became brain damaged as an adult for reasons unknown . . . at first. As Rachel learns more about her charge Grace, she also learns more about herself.
Finding Grace was surprisingly poignant. Rachel is appropriately awkward at first, not certain how to act around Grace. She is also on that brink between being a kid and being an adult, having graduated from high school but not completely knowing what she wants to do next. My heart went out to each of the characters in turn, and the writing kept me wanting to find out more about all of them.
Finding Grace explores and respects injuries and recovery of an adult after an accident while simultaneously detailing teenage embarrassment in a very gentle way. I recommend this book to teens and adults alike.
Culture Clash or Crash Course?
Though Finding Grace does not focus outright on Australian culture, politics, or other country-specific topics, American readers will know from the start that they aren't reading a book set in their country simply because of the terms Rachel uses to reference her schooling and graduation. Nevertheless, the story is all about people and their relationships, and it will appeal to readers of any age or nationality who are looking for a coming-of-age story.
In addition to the three aforementioned titles, Alyssa Brugman also writes the Shelby Shaw pony series, which currently has four titles: For Sale and Swap, Beginner's Luck, Hot Potato, and Hide & Seek. Her newest novel, Solo, is now on sale in Australia. None of these titles appear to be available in the USA - yet. I keep checking bookshops and the public library, just in case!
Australian Round-Up (Thanks to Kiba and Kelly)
Colleen at Chasing Ray kicked things off with a post about the works of Nick Earls
Margo Lanagan interviewed at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast
Melina Marchetta introduced at Writing and Ruminating
Big A, little a writes about Anna Feinberg and her Tashi series
Jenn at Not Your Mother's Bookclub interviews Simmone Howell
Chicken Spaghetti reviews Kathy Hoopmann's award winning All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome
Gwenda at Shaken and Stirred is all about How Sassy Changed My Life, The Red Shoe by Ursula Dubosarsky and a wee bit more with Margo Lanagan
John Marsden's Tomorrow series discussed at Jen Robinson's Book Page
Jaclyn Moriarty and Penni Russon's Undine at Finding Wonderland
Little Willow discusses Finding Grace by Alyssa Brugman at Bildungsroman
At A Chair, a Fireplace & a Tea Cozy it is all about Catherine Jinks and her four "Pagan" books
Does My Head Look Big in This? and John Flanagan's The Icebound Land at Interactive Reader
Queenie Chan interviewed by the YA YA YAs
Hot Men of Children's Literature: Australian Edition, as well as John Marsden and "The Rabbits" (Part Two) (Part Three) at A Fuse #8 Production
Peter Temple at Light Reading
Many of these blogs participating in today's OSWT - including Bildungsroman, and again led by Chasing Ray - will be posting Radar Recommendations, encouraging folks to pick up books that may have fallen under their radar.
Future stops on the world tour are currently being booked. Stay tuned!
Related Booklists and Posts at Bildungsroman
Full of Grace
From a Land Down Under
Summer Blog Blast Tour (SBBT)